Archives for the month of: July, 2014

 

ajibo2_samiasingh

I love storms. I love rain. I think a lot of people sweating it out in 48 degress centigrade in northern India share this love for rain, clouds and stormy weather with me. In my first sketch for the street art wall mural, I drew our dog Ajibo with me and Vaibhav flying out, away from the storm. For me this was an image to communicate how I was feeling with a new addition of this love-crazy puppy to our lives. That’s one layer of content: the personal. Then, this sketch was shown to the head of the city council of Carballo, Spain – who heads the street art project and is responsible for the funding, the production et all. Then the initial sketch was shown to the lady who owns the house whose wall I would be painting.

sketchone_carballo_samiasingh

The initial sketch, in my delighted escape from the Delhi summer was cloudy, windy and stormy. The mausam of my soul. But the lady found it dark and depressing.

I had other ideas about the mural but I had only mentioned them in text and who can imagine a painting from a few lines of text? I did the second draft using warm colours. I never use warm colours. I don’t know why. I love the mystery of blues and greens. For years these are the only two colours in my wardrobe. Its natural that they are the colours I always pick for the pallete too.sketch2_carballo_samiasingh

But this is not my sketchbook, it is someone’s house and someone’s money and together this wall will become an experience for someone else who walks past it. Here is where it comes in. ¿How can you use your work to make people smile? It’s a naïve question, yes. But it’s also a fundamental one.

sketch wall map_samiasingh

I always find myself between two points. I love realism but I also love surrealism. I love to see the sun break the sky into a hundred shades of orange red pink yellow and purple but I also value the hundred thoughts inside my head. What you see and what you think. Truth and humour. I don’t want to show you a beetle that I drew 20 times and have mastered. I want to show you all my memories. I want to show you all the things that touched me and I want to show you how I feel here. But that’s not it, I want to you feel something too. I want your thought that you carried in your mind to be forgotten when you see this wall. I want you to stop a moment and look a little closer. I want you to smile.

This of course will continue, the communication. Slowly the aesthetic will evolve, maybe it will get more cartoony, maybe it will get more realistic, maybe it will continue to sit right here in the middle.

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carballo_samiasingh

S

o you think you have something – an idea – something to start. You think you have a timeline – you think you know when its going to finish and be ready. Hahaha, always starts the same way. So ready so sure. As one progresses and thinks and makes stuff more ideas start popping up. What if there was a seal? What if the fish are taxis? What if they are metaphors of release from sadness, coming up ? Right. So we add those new details, and more. Slowly things are changing, for the better. More details, more stories. Oh but the deadline. Flight out in 29 days! I want to put everything! Energy levels vary everyday, some days are for giant brushes and painting backgrounds and covering ground. Other days are for tiny details and small point and adding depth. Very exciting very exhausting. I know this feeling from graphic design too, adding flourishes – making things more functional, more memorable, more beautiful. What keeps your brain and body ready to perform well? Exercise, good food, good friends – good breaks make good work. Now I rest, until tomorrow.

carballojuly23_samiasingh

carballo3_june23_samiasingh

carballomural_samiasingh

 

signature_SamiaSingh

StreetArtSpain_SamiaSingh
The more I work the more I think. The more I find myself realising reasons and systems within work, and the more I want to write – to make sense of all these mini AHA moments ( as they would say in Srishti, my design school.) Today, for instance – I was drawing grass blowing in the wind. I was thinking how some years ago I would have been very nervous. I would have put more detail and wanted every grass blade to be perfect and in that obsession missed out on the fun. I would have stressed about how the style or treatment of the image was too childish and cartoon- like.

But, today I felt so free, just letting my hand do some shit and following it with my mind – as opposed to the other way round. Another point was decisions. Small things like how many shades of green to use and how many types of grass to include into the drawing. Researching photographs, trying to copy photographs in an exact manner – all this is good of course but one misses out all the fun while stressing on details. Sometimes ending up in an over detailed thing at the end.

Sketching frees you from seeking reference and continuously cross-checking your drawings. Of course this doesn’t mean I think I draw very well or that I know everything about light and shade, line, colour or perspective. It only means that when it’s time to create you have some sort of a bank of information in your head which you can draw from, (pun intended) uninterrrupted.

A liberating thought was a quote I read somewhere which had the gist of “to paint is to look at the world with the inside of the eye.” I know it sounds floozy but to me could be a meditation almost. Styles within painting are many and from medium to medium they vary within a single person as well – but the tone, the voice is what now interests me. What are you trying to say? Doesn’t mean that one is better than the other, as people back home keep repeating – everyone goes through the same things, you end up at the end of life in the same place, it’s just about time and the sequence of events! So I feel like my mind is growing more painting cells and that can’t be a bad thing!

It’s so good to be in a different country on an assignment – so far i’ve worked with the best of work environments – the idea of a design or art brief in Europe is how it should be. Much to my liking, you are left alone after you have convinced the client that you are capable of delivering. You don’t have stage-wise approval of every detail, your knowledge base is respected and most importantly commisioning a design/an artwork does not mean the client directing it!

Freedom goes a long way and so does fair pay – one can truly push one’s limits when you know quality is all that matters. Blissful work conditions, except the wind!

Hieronymus_Bosch_003Wat was it? What hit you? The light? The angels? The painstaking effort gone into making the perspective right? The fact that unicorns were mistakenly included in art inspired by the Bible because someone mistranslated a kind of a bull as a unicorn? That unicorns were being so fussy on Noah’s Arc that he chucked them out letting them drown instead – and that’s why they are extinct now? So many stories and reasons for happenings. I think it’s all cooked up anyway (no offense to believers) but one comes across many valuable life-lessons in art and in religious writing, which can be as informative and enjoyable as poetry and literature. Interesting metaphors and imagery articulate the goings on within our insides. Hieronymus Bosch’s work can pull out the rug from beneath your feet. If there was a rug at all or if you were standing in flesh next to a painting , it will probably make a bit of a difference (but not much). Netherlands in the 1500’s were under the Spanish crown – an answer I found after being surprised by the number of artists from the Netherlands in the national museum of Spain. Strange creatures, futuristic and contemporary images drawn at the same time Guru Nanak in Punjab, India was coming up with Sikhism! What a world of differences and what a variety of ways to address similar concerns! Between heaven and hell, good and evil lies in all of us and art has the electric magnetic power to arrest you and educate you, your soul – in a moment you can be transported to the depths of an emotion. El Bosco does that repeatedly all on the same canvas as hundreds of images form a whole. I can only sigh and smile and sleep dreaming sweet crazy dreams.

Museo Del Prado ticketThe brain can only take in so much. After some of the previous summer spent soaking in the Louvre and the Musée D’Orsay in Paris & the Uffizi gallery in Firenze it takes courage to step into a museum again. There is endless beauty; the light, the perspective, details , ideas, symbols and stories all demand intense attention. It’s interesting for me to observe my lack of knowledge about Western art growing up in the Indian art curriculum. We had a little book with about 30 tiny images of art from prominent Indian artists that we had to know about along with the styles and content of Indian miniature schools. But we never went to the museum as part of the course. If we wanted to find out more, we’d have to go on our own accord. Like all things good, information that is important for you will find you at the right time. Chiaroscuro was a word I heard in 11th standard in Kodaikanal from Mr. Adam Kahn our German art teacher at Sholai School who we shared with kids from Kodaikanal International School. I remember him showing us Lust for Life, Vincent Van Gogh’s story. I also remember an elderly Indian couple who visited our school and as a parting gift gave me a beautiful 1940’s booklet in French about exercises to practise light in drawing. I spent days making sketches of trees at night in the moonlight, in the misty mornings and in the sunny/cloudy afternoons. I was lucky to have all that time in a forest at the age of 16/17 because ten years later it’s hard to find time that stretches across the mountains till the horizon. One doesn’t really come across that feeling so often now, that time is as infinite as a single moment and you can stretch it as you wish. That’s the sort of mental state one needs to be in at a museum to truly benefit. Your life can be changed so you must open all the windows and dust that old brain as you doddle into the museum. Hieronymus Bosch was this visit’s discovery and I am pretty sure he’s started to change my brain cells themselves. I think I will write about him and a few more things next time around.

On route to Spain via Helsinki

There wasn’t enough time to pack well or atleast pretend to. The visa takes forever and this time it came a few hours before the flight. The truth is one can never mentally prepare to go to a new place. Somewhere over the snow covered mountains in Afghanistan and the lake swamped forest covered Helsinki a smile was spreading across my face and has been more or less there for the last 3 weeks. The first thing that hits you is the light. Yes the fact that its sun up till 11:30 at night but also the angle the sun is at and the warmth of the colours, perhaps its the cleanliness in the air – I don’t know exactly what it is but the light is very distinct. The second thing is the language. It’s a peculiar feeling, realising the moment where the outside world moves further away than you are used to. You are now officially the outsider and the observer. Not unlike life but very much like life, hyper realism in a way. Then things slowly unravel and life begins to normalise, a new rhythm in a new land slowly trying to align back to your own rhythm of sleep and waking up. Tasting new food meeting new people. Seeing new things. Dogs are allowed beside their owners in restaurants and in shops. Mothers are walking with prams n toddlers everywhere. Fit mothers. New information: people have to pay 2000 euros to get a license here! But that’s not enough, I am not here on a tourist trip. Im here to work. To paint a mural on a wall for the people of Carballo, a city 30 mins from A Coruña, north west Spain- near Portugal. Now there is a purpose to this seemingly random information. It’s like gathering cues in a way, much like a detective would. All this new information has to be checked with my earlier beliefs and age old ideas that we all share in some way. Then sieved through criticism to arrive at an idea for the mural. Its great to see some of my old friends here from Firenze. I look forward to hard work and arriving at some sort of conclusion in shape of the mural.

The Wall